Title: The American Exhibition

Periodical: Musical Opinion and Music Trade Review

Date: March 1, 1887

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The American Exhibition.

So little has been said in the papers about the American Exhibition, to be opened at Earl's Court in May, that the publc are quite unaware of the importance of the entertainment that is being provided. In the United States the undertaking is much better understood and a weekly journal, which has now reached its eighth number, has been started and devoted entirely to its interests. The pleasure seekers of London who have been since last November deploring that there will be nothing this year to correspond with the South Kensington series of popular shows have therefore uttered their wail too soon, for the American exhibition promises to be at least as interesting as the best of them. It is an exhibition of the "arts, inventions, musical instruments, manufactures, products, and resources of the United States of America." That, at any rate, is the official description put forward by the promoters. But it is to be a good deal more than a practical exposition of the trade and commerce of a great country, being to an equal extent an open air resort in which music, amusements, and representations of an exciting character will be given daily, amidst the pleasant surroundings of gardens and shrubberies. The site is not far from Earl's Court station, but there will be entrances near the West Kensington and West Brompton stations also. The twenty-three acres of ground covered by the exhibition is divided into two sections by the West London Railway, over which a connecting bridge will be built. The western section is set apart as the haunt of the red man. Here Buffalo Bill and his Indians, horses, buffaloes, elks, and dogs will live in tent and corral; and in the central space the sports and warlike pursuits of the wild west will be illustrated twice a day. Buffalo Bill brings with him from America about two hundred red Indians, —braves, squaws, and children, and amongst the men are many warriors who in past days have proudly taken their scalps, and won fame in the lodges of their tribes by prowess with the tomahawk. As there will be stabling on the grounds for more than 200 horses and a corral for buffaloes, elks, and small deer, it must be evident that this part of the business will not be done by halves. The Indian manœuvres will take place in an arena surrounded by a track a third of a mile in circumference, and this will be overlooked by a grand stand capable of accommodating 20,000 spectators, while there will be standing room under cover for some 5,000 more. It ought perhaps to be explained that Buffalo Bill is not, as some may suppose, an Indian chief, accustomed to feathers and war paint. He is on the contrary a very handsome white man, known and esteemed in private life as the Hon. W. F. Gody, [1] a member of the United States parliament. He was one of the most famous scouts in the American army, and for years kept his life by his rifle in the savage western backwoods. One of the most noted of his red Indian company is Sitting Bull, chief amongst the Sioux.

The exhibition on the other side of the railway, and the pleasure grounds there being laid out will be the eastern section. The block of buildings devoted to exhibits is 1,200ft. long by 120ft., cut into sections by avenues or streets numbered from one to ten. The buildings are of steel rail in girders and columns, with corrugated iron and glass for roof and sides. There is a frontage to the Lille Road, of 210ft., but this will be of brick. The pleasure grounds connected with the eastern section will comprise six acres, laid out in gravelled walks, swards, and flower beds; and in the latter an attempt will be made to produce a grand display of American flora. Band stands, a concert hall, pavilions for special exhibits, and a working model of the American switch back railway in Pennsylvania occupy the southern end of this section. The fine art gallery is to be 160 by 80ft., divided into eight rooms each 40ft. square. There is much yet to do before the hillocks are raised and the grounds laid out; but the roofing in of the building has commenced, and the executive is confident of being ready for the opening on May 2nd.

The complete list of the exhibitors of musical instruments is not yet to hand, but we hear that Messrs. Weber will exhibit their pianofortes, and the Kimball Organ Co., intend to show a selection of their organs.

Note 1: Hon. W. F. Cody. [back]